Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Would you get a blood transfusion from a monkey?

The boyfriend recently found himself in a conversation with a woman who told him she’s home-schooling her daughter. He wasn’t sure how to respond to her announcement, so he asked her what subjects she was teaching. She told him she was covering the basics: math, language arts, science and history … a subject on which she announced that she and her daughter were “up to Deuteronomy.”

While the boyfriend and I hold the Bible-as-the-primary-source-of-education set in the same regard we hold people who hear voices coming from their toasters, we don’t intentionally engage them in verbal combat until they trot out their factory-issue homophobic platitudes. And since this woman hadn’t flinched at the fact that the boyfriend has a boyfriend, he took the opportunity to ask her about her beliefs in a genuine spirit of trying to understand what she thinks, how she justifies it and how she lives in a world so at odds with her chosen mindset.

And it seems she’s put herself on the religious-conservative cafeteria plan:
• Gay people obviously don’t violate her moral code—not even gay people in relationships.
• She holds the Bible’s seven-day creation story as literal truth, though when the boyfriend asked her about it she couldn’t remember the order in which stuff was supposedly created … though she taught the subject to her daughter only four books ago.
• Her daughter loves dinosaurs, and the woman is so OK with this that she asked the boyfriend if he knew of any museums in Chicago with dinosaur bones.
• She absolutely doesn’t believe in evolution. When pressed, her only argument against it was the question in the title of this post. Seriously. And because apparently nobody has ever answered her question with a yes, she feels justified in maintaining her beliefs.

While this woman clearly doesn't represent the lockstep majority of the religious right, her justification for her evolutionary beliefs sums up pretty clearly the mindset we’re up against as we fight to give gay people equal rights and equal protections under the law. People with extreme religious convictions need no further justification and accept no challenges to their beliefs, and when backed logically into a corner, they lash out with insults, absurdisms and ridiculous generalizations: gay marriage would destroy straight marriage, homosexuality is a choice, homosexuality is a disease that can be cured, homosexuality is immoral, gay activists want to teach schoolchildren about buttsex, "faggot" is a harmless little schoolyard taunt, the things you see in gay pride parades represent the universal behaviors of the world’s gay population, if you work to deny gay people equal rights you are unfairly labeled a bigot … and if you believe in evolution you should stock up on monkey blood before your next surgery.

Larry Kramer has an op-ed piece in today’s LA Times that addresses this and a world of related issues in an eloquent mix of fact, interpretation and a justifiable amount of anger. Read it here.

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